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Sense is a startup that has developed a home energy monitor that detects devices by identifying their unique electrical signals. They help homeowners save money, see what’s on or off, and even avoid disaster. After only two years of meeting the team, we partnered financially and commercially with Sense in late 2018. Six months later, we launched a new product together, delivering smart home energy management platforms to American households faster than anyone could have expected. We are now unveiling our second-generation product that promises an even smarter future to residential customers.
At CES (Consumer Electronics Show) in early 2021, we unveiled the latest Square D Energy Center. It combines the features of what would normally be six or seven separate equipment installations into one electrical service entrance box, integrated via Schneider Electric’s Wiser energy control platform. One of its most innovative features is its disaggregation algorithms. It can detect household loads down to the individual appliance. This technological breakthrough was made possible by our innovation partnership with Sense.
From testing to investing: how Sense became a trusted innovation partner
In 2016 we anticipated the value of generating energy consumption insight for residential customers. By the end of the year and throughout 2017, Sense was tested at employees’ houses, alongside its main competitors. Sense quickly demonstrated they had the best technology to complement our offer. Technical experts and offer managers were unanimous and rallied the US strategy team to lay the foundation of what would become a winning innovation partnership. In October 2018, SE Ventures, Schneider’s corporate venture arm, led an $18 million Series B round to fund the startup, solidifying the partnership.
“Sense has a brilliant engineering team and it was quite clear that our business unit is fully committed to accelerating their go-to-market plans. In turn, this would help generate superior returns for our investment” Varun Jain, General Partner at SE Ventures.
Powered by a monitor that installs in electric panels, Sense reads the current one million times each second and processes that data to present a whole-home view. Sense understood the need for high-speed data and data crunching to be edge-based as opposed to being piped in the cloud. Its founders also grasped the fundamental problem of recognizing signatures in a sea of noise and the need to produce vast amounts of data to develop models. This engineering compatibility fed into a larger vision alignment from both leadership teams on the smarter future of energy systems.
“The key to a successful innovation partnership is a common vision and clarity around what each partner can bring to the relationship. In this case, the common vision is that energy systems should become smarter,” Michael Phillips, CEO of Sense.
Co-innovating the next generation of products
After the investment decision in late 2018, the process of product co-innovation started. Only 6 months later, we jointly announced the launch of Wiser Energy Monitor running the Square D edition of the Sense App. With this new product, consumers can achieve significant energy savings of up to 20% simply by tracking down “energy hogs” in their homes. This record time to market was allowed by the partnership building efforts of the preceding years and the teams’ strategic vision alignment. It was therefore with great pride that we learned we had won Partnership of the Year at NECEC’s 12th Annual Green Tie Gala Awards for our leadership and contributions to the New England’s leading clean energy economy.
“One of the challenges we faced was market acceptance. But, Sense’s market recognition for its disaggregation expertise coupled with our market reach allowed us to quickly win customers over.” Christy Roth, Director of Offer Management, Software H&D at Schneider Electric.
Building a smarter future for home energy
Our ambition did not stop at this first commercial success. Leveraging our market traction, we spent the last two years working on an enhanced product. Sense’s technology allows the new Square D Energy Center, presented at the 2021 CES, to measure home energy consumption alongside home solar production and stored battery power. This, paired with future load controlling devices, will allow homeowners to create virtual critical load panels within their home, giving them the ability to optimize their alternative energy source.
“Our partnership with Sense has been an integral part of developing our new Square D Energy Center. Their technology paired with ours will enable us to bring exciting new energy saving features in 2021.” Michael Mahan, VP Final Distribution at Schneider Electric.
Our innovation journey with Sense has met great commercial success and promises to generate further value in the years to come. At Schneider Electric we help foster these innovation partnerships with startups through our Innovation at the Edge program. We take a holistic approach to innovation and have deployed three pillars: a Eur500M venture fund to invest, an incubation practice working with top-tier accelerators around the globe and a partnerships team matching the best entrepreneurs with the right businesses in Schneider to scale up faster.
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